Growing 'Up': Austin to get tallest condo west of the Missisippi

Austin's skyline is about to get a lot taller again.

58 stories. 685 feet in the air. The masterminds behind "The Independent" say it will be the tallest building in Austin and the tallest residential building west of the Mississippi.

"We had no restrictions with respect to height, no Capitol view corridor issues and so we built a building that we could park well and that made sense and this is what we landed on," said Perry Lorenz with Construction Ventures.

Lorenz says it will create about $300 million in ad valorem tax base. He says it will help the city in other ways too.

"These are people that won't be watering their lawns. They won't be driving with the rush hour traffic," Lorenz said.

The building has a "staggered" design. Kevin Burns, the CEO of Urbanspace Real Estate and Interiors says it's very "Austin."

"We like to joke in the office that it's kind of like a Jenga set," he said.

"A Jenga set. We have heard that and we have actually played Jenga in our office just to sort of get a sense of what that's like but this is very different," said architect Brett Rhode.

Rhode says in a city where the high-rises don't look all that interesting he wanted to create something iconic.

"We're very optimistic that it's going to be something that people really recognize on the skyline in a very positive way," Rhode said.

UT Senior Yvonne Xu picked a scenic spot on the lake to study Monday afternoon -- overlooking the ever-changing skyline.

"It's kind of terrifying how fast its growing. Prices aren't going down either, which is sad. They're going up instead. But I feel like the skyline will be more beautiful," Xu said.

Austin native Matt Harlow says new buildings like "The Independent" make him a little nervous his hometown is losing its flavor.

"Keeping the culture and the heart of what makes Austin fun, right? Why people want to come visit, why people want to live in the city...it's really important to me," he said.

Burns doesn't feel that way. He says Austin is just "growing up."

"I still believe that Austin is maintaining its roots and its culture. But we're just growing up and we're now in a situation where we're creating solutions to Austin's traffic by moving people downtown where they don't have to drive, they can walk," Burns said.

Future independent residents should expect to pay from $300,000 to over $3 million for one of the condos.

The folks behind The Independent are hoping to get started on it later this year and have it ready to go by 2018.


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